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The Thirty Years War - 400 Years Later.

To mark the fact that 2018 is a very special anniversary, and because I have to write a book about the event anyway, I decided to turn my podcasting attentions to the Thirty Years War (1618-48) once again. Unlike my first visit to this conflict, this time I have a great portion of it planned, and I will be designing it specifically to appeal to those that are interested in the era, but also intimidated by the range of characters and issues on offer. There is a lot to be fascinated and excited by in this series, so I hope you will join me for the journey, however long it takes.

A new episode on the Thirty Years War will be released every Wednesday from 20th June, but before then When Diplomacy Fails will be focusing all of its attentions on the conflict, so make sure you check out our podcast feed here, and subscribe so you always get the latest content directly to your player. Remember as well that our social media platforms are great ways to find Thirty Years War content too - we release regular pieces on important and interesting details relating to that conflict, so check our Facebook page out, follow us on Twitter and join our lovely Facebook group if you're feeling sociable.

This section of the website has been specifically designed to hold everything relevant to the Thirty Years War series. Below you'll find:

 Frederick V of the Palatinate, one of the most important figures in the initial stage of the conflict.

Frederick V of the Palatinate, one of the most important figures in the initial stage of the conflict.

  • the most recent episodes (nearest to the top of the page).
  • introductory episodes to get you familiar with the conflict if you're a complete noob, in both audio and written format.
  • links to any articles which I believe would be useful.
  • relevant images and other details.
  • the bibliography, when I eventually finish this series and book, in a time far from now...

 

Useful Materials

  • This episode which will introduce people of all knowledge levels to the conflict. Download the script of it right here.
  • We've been delivering a lot of regular detail on the Thirty Years War through social media, and you can find a document containing all of that work in one place right here.

Episodes in the Thirty Years War Series

LATEST: 17th Century Warfare Series Episode 4

In our latest episode of 17th Century Warfare, we put the Military Revolution to the test, by applying a key aspect of it - the trace italienne system - to 17th century France! Expect talk of fortresses, historian John A Lynn and lots of talk about context....

So...get ready to lay siege! In this episode we use the case study of French fortifications to examine the trace italienne, the name given to the modernisation of European fortifications along the Italian model. These forts had low, thick walls buttressed by large earthworks and supported by bastions which boasted interlocking fields of fire. The new developments in technology meant that the defenders could lay down a punishing amount of fire of their own, while the attacker would be forced to withstand this bombardment, and conduct his siege in the meantime. Developments in mining, in trench digging and in the size of armies necessary to police these trenches followed, and these issues will occupy much of our attention in this episode.

If you ever wondered how the fortifications of early modern Europe kept up with the advancements in gunpowder technology and the increasing calibre of cannons, then this episode is for you! If you were curious about the technological race between the defender and the attacker, then this episode is for you too! If you were simply curious about how defensive works were garrisoned or effectively employed against an invading army – the mission of any state which faced war with another during this period – then yes, this episode is for YOU! I hope you’ll join me as we look through the French lens to better explain why siege warfare developed as it did. Thanksss!

17th Century Warfare series Episode 3

Time to get a bit technical, but I promise it'll be anything BUT boring!

Get your thinking caps on history friends, because in this episode we’re going to assess the most important element of the historiography of the 17th century – the Military Revolution theory. The Military Revolution idea states that Europe underwent fundamental – you might even say ‘revolutionary’ changes during the late 1500s and 1600s. These changes were affected by improvements in military technology, and the adoption of weapons like the musket, the usage of proper infantry musket drills, and the creation of a new fortification system the trace italienne, which made the ballooning of armies essential if these modernised fortresses were to be effectively besieged.

There is of course more to the Military Revolution thesis than that, and contradictions abound which we will absolutely be sinking our teeth into in the episodes to come. If you were sceptical or simply curious though, then this episode will give us a great grounding in the mechanics of the Military Revolution, so please don’t feel intimidated or put off by our mention of it! I promise it is a fascinating story which I genuinely got real enjoyment researching, so hopefully this will come across in the episode. Come and join me and see for yourself, as we pick our way through 17th century warfare!

17th Century Warfare Series Episode 2

In my time my poor father was as diligent to teach me to shoot, as to learn me any other thing; and so I think other men did their children: he taught me how to draw, how to lay my body in my bow, and not to draw from strength of the body: I had my bows bought me, according to my age and strength; as I increased in them, so my bows were made bigger and bigger; for men shall never shoot well, except they be brought up in it…But now, we have taken up whoring in towns, instead of shooting in fields. 

These were the words of Hugh Lattimer when talking of the decline of English training standards with the longbow - an important theme in this episode. Trust me history friends, this is a good one! Herein we ask that important question - why did England swap its longbows for muskets over the 16th to 17th centuries, what did this process look like, and why did it take so flaming long? 

We trace the longbow’s dominance of English military thinking, and ask how it was that England swapped the longbow for the musket, when the musket was less reliable, more expensive and overall less effective. Did you know that longbows were only fully removed from English armies in 1595? Factoids such as these abound in this fascinating installment of our 17th century warfare series. It’s a long episode for sure, but I don’t doubt that you will enjoy every minute of it if even the idea of English longbowmen interests you.  

17th Century Warfare Series Episode 1

At long last! Our series on 17th century warfare has finally landed, with our first episode looking at…nothing to do with 17th century warfare…Hmmm. Not to worry history friends – untangling warfare in the 17th century requires a certain amount of background detail, and in this episode here we do exactly that. The feudal society and its relation to the military contract aren’t topics we would normally go anywhere near, but to lay the foundations for what’s to come, we need to establish what came first. 

In this episode we do this, using the case study of Medieval England as our baseline. Expect talk of how English Kings did war during the Middle Ages, and what challenges they faced and hoops they had to jump through in order to make going to war possible. These traditions were bound up in the expectations of feudal society which dictated that the King was always at the top of the pyramid, but not necessarily always obeyed or followed. 

Contradictions and exceptions abounded of course, but tracing the arc of development from medieval to early modern also provides us with the chance to examine another concept which will become key to this series – the Military Revolution. So jump right into this series here, and remember that part 2, which looks in more detail at the technological advances – specifically how England traded longbows for muskets – will be released on Wednesday! Thankssss!

Thirty Years War Intro 5: The ACTUAL Introduction Episode

Our fifth introduction episode if you're counting those TALK episodes, in this episode here we actually get down to the meat and bones of what you can expect from this series, what its structure, release schedule and objectives will be, and of course, why you should be really excited for it! If you'd like to find out what I am planning and what this series holds in store for you, and perhaps why you should bother a second time round returning to this fascinating era, then hopefully once you have a listen here, I'll be able to convince you.

Thirty Years War Intro 4: For God or the Devil

'This is a fight between God or the Devil. If his Majesty wants to side with God, he must join me. If he prefers to side with the Devil, then indeed he must fight me. There is no third way"

Gustavus Adolphus may give us our podcast's theme, and our book's title, but there was much more to the Thirty Years War than the famed King of Sweden. In this introduction episode, we place you in the thick of this dilemma - neutrality was impossible, yet the consequences for picking one side or the other were potentially catastrophic, so how could those caught in the middle decide? To make our point, come with us to the sack of Magdeburg in may 1631, a city whose people chose the 'Devil' in the mind of the Imperialists, and paid the ultimate price, as the worst single atrocity of the conflict takes place. It's time to pick a side history friends, are you for God or the Devil?

Thirty Years War Prologue

1618-2018 - on this day 400 years ago, one of the most destructive conflicts in human history erupted within the walls of Prague's Hradschin Castle. As we recount here, the conflict was neither all the fault of the Bohemians, nor sustained by them for very long. Instead, several factors prolonged the conflict and kept Europe in rapture for three decades. For the next year or so, we here at WDF want to bring you on a journey into this conflict, on a scale and with an attention to detail which you have never known before.

We start on that morning - it's just after 8AM on the morning of 23rd May, 1618, and you've agreed to meet a friend of yours. The two of you, along with several others, have agreed to do something radical...

Thirty Years War Intro 2 & 3: TALK I & TALK II

Happy birthday to us! When Diplomacy Fails is 6 years old today, and to celebrate we're jumping right into the Thirty Years War once again, with another intro episode (2/5) this one looking at the timeline of the conflict up to the year 1635, but with a twist. I'm not by myself this time - today I am joined by TALK episode guest Sean. Far too much happens to really summarise here, but as usual, skip ahead past the BEFIT rundown for the bulk of the episode, and make sure to let me know what you thought. Then, Sean returns for Part 2 of the TALK episode, and we take the story from 1635 and discuss several battles, characters and important diplomatic developments before concluding on the Peace of Westphalia. Hopefully this will get you pumped for all the content that is to come

Thirty Years War Intro 1: Who's Who/What's What

We're jumping back into the Thirty Years War and this is all super exciting, but to some of you guys it may also be a tad overwhelming, as a lot of unfamiliar stuff is about to be thrown at you. With that in mind, this episode is designed to familiarise you with the main themes, the most important figures, and the most active powers in Europe at the time.

We'll learn a bit about the constitution of the Holy Roman Empire, meet the Habsburg family, and take a gander at some other related issues in Europe at the time of the outbreak of the conflict in 1618.